I build bridges. I build bridges between the masculine and feminine, between East and West, between decorative and functional, and between the eternal and the ephemeral. The bridges I build are suspension bridges. They suspend (often in the air) decay, ambiguity, and sensuality—the taut, fibrous stings of emotional labor that welcome the viewer across the chasm from one side to the other. Through colors and glaze, I explore luxury and decadence with surfaces that crystallize, facet, fragment, stylize, sharpen, distort, blur and cause noise.
I find a metaphor to my process in the obsessive repetitions of late-stage capitalism and consumerism. I excessively fire and re-fire, introducing a different glaze each cycle, only stopping when the material starts to crack and warp to the point of near collapse. Even after firing, the constant layering continues until a “vibrancy of too muchness” occurs: pink on sweet sweaty blues, narcissistic yellows on avaricious greens.
As I bridge seas, I have a foot on two shores. I reflect on my upbringing in Korea. My mother made ceramic work while I was in her womb and my father is an Onggi potter. In my ceramic studies in Jingdezhen, China, I developed a keen sense of the collective nature of East Asian culture, tradition, and history. This group awareness was challenged by American individualism. Through this clash of borderlands within myself, I was able to imagine new bridges in my work that helped me negotiate my new identities.
Work is not the goal of my life; it is meaningful movement. I want people to travel across my bridges as I do, bringing their own languages and cultural memories on voyages that span the bodies of water between us, with the hope that in the middle we might share moments of awareness, empathy, and our shared human yearnings.
YehRim Lee was born in Seoul, Korea. The way she interacts with her work is directly connected to her background in ceramics. She earned her BFA from Korea National University of Cultural Heritage (2013). She received her MFA in Ceramic Art at Alfred University (2017). She has shown in exhibitions nationally and internationally. Lee was the visiting resident artist at the university of Georgia in the ceramics department (2017-2018) and currently visiting artist at the University of the Arts.
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